Breaking Down Data Silos: 5 Strategies for Unified Sales & Marketing Operations

Posted May 4, 2021

Creating a culture of “one team” is a challenge for many go-to-market (GTM) teams and companies. How do you remove organizational and data silos to help three distinct departments — sales, marketing, and revenue operations — become a united front?

Each team has different, but intrinsically intertwined roles. Additionally, they often define “success” differently. This can cause teams to clash on everything from how key metrics are defined (like Marketing Qualified Leads) to who gets credit for the business. However, there is only one true metric of success at a business, and that is revenue.

In this article, we’ll discuss strategies for removing these silos, so you can optimize team performance and drive business growth.

The Consequences of Data Silos in Sales and Marketing

Data silos in sales and marketing can cause challenges like inefficient processes, poor communication, and missed opportunities. In fact, 90% of leaders say it’s their biggest challenge to business growth.

Inefficient Operations

Silos create inefficient operations, often resulting in activities like redundant data entry, time-consuming manual processes, and difficulty tracking prospect and customer interactions across systems. These inefficiencies can significantly hinder day-to-day operations, wasting valuable time and resources.

Increased Costs and Complexity

Maintaining separate data silos requires additional resources and effort to manage and synchronize data across systems. This increased complexity not only adds to operational costs but also impedes agility and innovation within the organization.

Missed Opportunities

Data silos can cause missed opportunities for upselling, cross-selling, and customer retention. Without a holistic view of customer preferences and purchase history, sales and marketing teams may overlook valuable opportunities to engage with customers and drive revenue.

Difficulty Forecasting and Planning

Siloed data complicates the forecasting and planning processes for sales and marketing activities. Inaccurate or incomplete data leads to unreliable forecasts, making it challenging for businesses to allocate resources effectively and set realistic goals for revenue targets and customer acquisition.

Five Strategies to Break Down Data Silos

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Map Out Your Customer Journey

It’s important to map out each stage of the customer journey. What is their experience like throughout the sales process and hand-offs? What friction points do customers experience? Put yourself in their shoes. Think about the process from all perspectives.

Review everything across all prospect and customer touch points, from marketing messages all the way up to Quarterly Business Reviews. Is everything in alignment? By breaking down the process, you’ll be able to identify the disconnects, and have conversations with all departments about how to fix them. It is essential to make this an ongoing exercise though— your customer needs and preferences can evolve alongside market advancement, product innovation, and your own team or business changes.

Determine One Source of Truth

Organizational and data silos can cause each team to have their own perspective on what is happening in any given customer situation. It is also hard to be objective when you are the one taking the action and being measured against it. That is where RevOps comes in. A big part of a RevOps role is to deliver visibility across the GTM team and improve efficiency across processes. A RevOps team can come in as the single source of truth and say, “This is what we are seeing, based on the data” — without placing blame on any one person or department.

Develop a Shared Vision of Accountability

To get everyone on the same page, start by getting them in the same room. Schedule a recurring meeting with the sales team, marketing team, and RevOps team leaders. This is a place for honesty — and even healthy tension. Let RevOps start by laying out the challenges they observed since the last sync.

Allow leaders across each team to look at the problem together and foster an open discussion. What activities is each team responsible for now? What changes should be made? How will the success of those changes be measured? Get specific. For example, what should marketing or sales be doing and what are their specific KPIs to measure performance? Everyone should leave the room with a clear, shared vision of accountability.

Understand One Another's Challenges

A great way to break down organizational and data silos is to schedule time together when there is no problem to fix. Encourage cross-departmental Zoom meet-ups for coffee or happy hour. Walk the walk by having these same relaxed meetings with others in your organization — and even outside partners. Take the time to ask questions and to understand each other’s perspectives and challenges. Find ways that you can offer support beyond the customer “hand-off.” It’s important to establish a rapport.

Relationship building can also help your team solve problems together more effectively. Relationships are like a bank. You have to make deposits before you make a withdrawal. Now, when your vice president of marketing has to have a difficult conversation with your vice president of sales, they have built a foundational relationship which makes difficult discussions much easier as they come from a place of trust/understanding.

Create a Culture of Support, Not Taking Credit

Sometimes, the focus gets misdirected to who gets credit, rather than how we can improve the customer experience. How can you shift the focus back to where it should be? In addition to mapping out the customer journey, determine how each team will provide quality service, take accountability in their stage of the process, and support their colleagues in the other stages. Think beyond the hand-off. To be successful as a holistic organization, you need success at every level and on every team — not just at the top. Collectively focus on identifying the strategies that work (based on data), doubling down on those efforts, and supporting each other throughout the process, even beyond our individual commitments.

Best Practices for Maintaining Unified Operations

Once you’ve removed data silos, follow these best practices to maintain an efficient, unified team.

Regular Data Audits

Regular data audits ensure consistency and accuracy across departments. Audits help uncover any new data silos and encourage transparency among your team. It’s better to identify a problem early and find a way to fix it collaboratively, as an organization.

Encourage Open Communication

Keep open lines of communication between teams. Have weekly or monthly check-ins or consider using a project management tool to keep everyone on the same page. It’s important to remember you’re on the same team and to always assume positive intent.

Implement Integrated Systems and Tools

Invest in integrated systems and tools that enable seamless data sharing and collaboration across departments. Choose platforms that support interoperability and provide real-time access to centralized data repositories.

Provide Ongoing Training and Education

Offer regular training and educational programs to equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively use data and collaborate across departments. This includes training on data management best practices, as well as communication and teamwork skills.

Celebrate Shared Successes

Recognize and celebrate achievements that result from collaborative efforts across teams. Reinforce the idea that everyone plays a vital role in driving revenue growth and delivering value to customers.

Conclusion: Uniting for a Seamless Customer Experience

Breaking down data silos is essential for creating cohesive and efficient sales and marketing operations in companies. By implementing strategies such as mapping out the customer journey, establishing a single source of truth, developing a shared vision of accountability, and fostering a culture of support, organizations can overcome these challenges and drive business growth. Through collaboration and alignment across sales, marketing, and revenue operations, organizations can optimize team performance and ultimately deliver greater value to customers.

Learn how Outreach’s sales execution platform can help your team remove data silos, increase productivity and drive revenue.


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